All talk and no action?

Is anyone actually using their mobile device to pay at the point of sale?

Everyone’s talking about the brave new world of payments. The mainstream press and even my family seem to know about everything from mobile and peer-to-peer payments to crypto-currencies, writes Markus Sander.

But who’s actually using them?

I’ll be sharing my personal experience of new mobile payments solutions from scanning QR codes at the checkout to the latest virtual currencies in a series of blogs.

First up is a new service that enables customers to pay for goods with their mobile phone. Introduced by REWE, a large German supermarket chain, it requires end-users to download an app to their smartphone.

Once all your groceries have been swiped, you can select the ‘pay with mobile option’ on the POS terminal and then scan the QR code that comes up. What’s so surprising is that the app was launched with no advertising at all and appears to be aimed at a small ‘early adopter’ audience. There are instructions, but they are only available as part of the app. Don’t expect any guidance at the checkout.

My user experience
The most interesting part was the mixed reactions of cashiers and customers alike. Mostly they didn’t believe that I’d actually paid and I in some cases I even had to argue that ‘mobile’ was a valid payment option.

What did I learn?
The good news is that it actually works. It’s convenient once set up correctly, easy to use and serves its purpose well, although the process is no faster than making a card payment.

Will it catch on?

Probably not. POS terminals that support mobile applications are still rare and given the lack of loyalty programs, I’ll continue to use my credit card to collect air miles.

It’s a bit disappointing, especially when you see how countries such as Slovakia have established a widespread payments infrastructure that encourages retailers, banks and customers to participate.

But what about you? Have you tried new mobile applications in stores and what do you think? And if your country offers mobile payments services – good or bad – share your experience in the comments below.